Awarded to People for Research

Start date: Monday 29 November 2021
Value: £480,000
Company size: SME
Office for National Statistics

PU-22-0098 - User Research Contract

1 Incomplete application

1 SME, 0 large

5 Completed applications

5 SME, 0 large

Important dates

Tuesday 5 October 2021
Deadline for asking questions
Tuesday 12 October 2021 at 11:59pm GMT
Closing date for applications
Tuesday 19 October 2021 at 11:59pm GMT


Summary of the work
Call-off contract for the recruitment of participants from the UK for Social Survey Operations and Digital Services teams, which will see a range of different participants needed by the ONS.
Research dates
Call-Off Contract from November 2021 until November 2023.
Organisation the work is for
Office for National Statistics
Budget range
£450,000 for the two-year contract. Pricing should be defined by the complexity of the requirements at each research stage.

About the work

Early market engagement

About the research

Description of your participants
There is a need for the user participants who are recruited to represent a wide demographic of the UK. Characteristics will include, but not be limited to: Age, gender, ethnicity, sexual identity, digital capability, education levels (e.g. school, apprenticeships, etc.) and employment (e.g. self-employed vs employed).

The participant group to be required will be defined at each different stage by the contacting authority. The successful supplier should be able to demonstrate an ability to achieve this. The successful supplier should also be proficient in recruiting participants with wide ranges of digital capability and accessibility needs. This can include, but not be limited to those who require screen readers and other forms of digital assistance software. Due to the nature of this, the supplier should be able to recruit participants in a non-digital format.

An ability to source research participants for surveys, tree-tests and unmoderated remote tests within shorter timeframes will also be required during the contract. It is anticipated that this testing will be less complex and take less than 20 minutes, with the authority aiming for higher volume of participants. The timeframes expected are typically within a week and should incur less cost than usability/interview testing.
Assisted digital and accessibility requirements
The successful supplier should have an ability to recruit participants with a range of digital competency and assistance needs. The participants that will be required are to be defined at each round with the relevant stakeholder and the supplier.
Research plan
The Contract will cover multiple research plans, from different business areas within the ONS. The supplier should have an ability to be flexible with its recruitment, as there will be changing needs during the course of the contract.
Research location
Not all rounds of research will be spread across the UK but there is a requirement to be able to recruit participants across the UK to achieve a generalisable demographic sample. The research will be held at multiple locations throughout the term of this contract. Some research may be conducted in the ONS labs or offices, based in Newport, Titchfield or London. Research may also be held in any location across the UK. Locations will be subject to the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic, which may also result in a need for digital research to be conducted.
Access restrictions at location
For any research held within an ONS office, there will be a need for security checks on arrival and escorting. Participants must bring a valid form of photographic ID.
Number of research rounds
This is for a Call-Off Contract. There will not be a set number of rounds.
Number of participants a round
The size of rounds will vary depending upon the research projects and the nature of the participants required, this will be defined with the relevant stakeholder at each stage.
How often research will happen
No exact dates are set, however, it is likely that the research will be taking place every 2-6 weeks. There is a possibility this could be on a more/less frequent basis. Participants for each project will be separately defined and a specification will be sent with 2-3 weeks notice before each session (there may be times where notices are shorter).
Evening or weekend research
  • Weekday evenings
  • Weekends

Additional information

Additional terms and conditions

Skills and experience

Buyers will use the essential and nice-to-have skills and experience to help them evaluate suppliers’ technical competence.

Essential skills and experience
  • Ability to recruit participants who are representative of desired user groups and screen users based on specific criteria sometimes within short time frames (1-3 week window) using solid screening processes.
  • Have experience recruiting participants from multiple regions across the UK.
  • Provide a single point of contact to reliably respond to communications by email or phone within 1 hour to 1 day (depending on the scenario) throughout the engagement.
  • Recruit participants at short notice with a short turnaround and ability to replace unsuitable participants
  • Arrange and manage participants, ensuring their attendance at the research
  • Recruit 'Assisted Digital' participants, people who are digitally excluded or have low digital skills including those with accessibility needs.
  • Recruit participants for field (on site workplace) interviews and for in home depth research when required.
  • Recruit participants for remote usability testing (including briefing and checking) and phone interviews.
  • Handle research incentives for participants.
  • Recruit users for face to face usability testing.
  • Recruit users for remote usability testing (including briefing and checking).
  • Recruit users for depth and cognitive interviewing.
  • Identify risks you can see and how you propose mitigating against them.
Nice-to-have skills and experience
Provide evidence of previous experience of working in the public sector.

How suppliers will be evaluated

All suppliers will be asked to provide a written proposal.

How many suppliers to evaluate
Proposal criteria
  • What is your approach to managing and scheduling participants, identifying, and managing risks and contingency plans to ensure sufficient recruitment? (15)
  • What would be the proposed methods for recruiting representative samples of participants as outlined in the statement of requirements? (30)
  • What would be the method for identifying and recruiting participants with low digital literacy and difficult to reach participants? (30)
  • What are the estimated timeframes for recruitment? Please include examples of a range of participants as outlined in the specification. (15)
  • How will you work with ONS to ensure visibility and provide us with confidence we are getting representative participants? (10)
Additional assessment methods
  • Case study
  • Interview
Evaluation weighting

Technical competence






Questions asked by suppliers

1. Is this a new requirement, or is there an existing contract in place?
There is currently an existing contract in place, this is not a new requirement.
2. Can you provide an indication of the number of participants you envisage needing per round for tree testing/surveys and frequency?
The expectation for this is to be around 5-60 participants for tree-tests, and 5-100 participants for surveys (small numbers for pilots, and larger numbers for the tests in earnest). Frequency could swing widely dependant on the needs of researchers at the ONS.
3. Can you please clarify what is meant by “briefing & checking” when recruiting participants for remote usability testing & phone interviews?
Having the recruiter speak with participants to explain their responsibility/participation, and to make sure they attend the sessions on the day.